By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Nov 05, 2014 at 4:29 PM

It’s getting to crunch time here in the fantasy football regular season. It’s week 10, and the playoffs are mere weeks away. Have you picked up on some of the hot rookie wide receivers, or backup running backs who are now starters? Do you have some performers with late bye weeks? Or, are you in a dogfight for the final playoff spots in your league? We're here to help.

Now, you're not going to find "start Tom Brady" here. If you drafted a player in the first five rounds, chances are those are your go-to players, so we'll try to give you some less-than-obvious choices to bolster your lineup every week.

On that note, here we go for week 10:

Start 'em

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia quarterback vs. Carolina
Typically I shy away from backup quarterbacks who play well in immediate relief but start the next, mainly because they’re backups for a reason and the opponent now has a week to prepare just for them (see Weeden, Brandon). But, I think this is a different case. Sanchez may not be great, but he’s a professional who has won many NFL games. Also, the Panthers are terrible against opposing quarterbacks, giving up 17 total TD passes and five games of 280 yards passing or more (which doesn’t count Aaron Rodgers’ monster day because he sat out the fourth quarter). LeSean McCoy may get more work than normal, but Sanchez seemed to have an immediate rapport with Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews. He’s a good bye week fill-in, or matchup play.

Arizona defense vs. St. Louis
The Cardinals are the hottest (the best?) team in football right now and they welcome in a St. Louis team that can’t score. Beginning with their lone loss of the year in Denver five weeks ago, the Cardinals defense has come up with nine interceptions, five sacks and two fumble recoveries and one touchdown. The Rams just don’t have any big playmakers on offense, in the receiver or run game, and third string quarterback Austin Davis has had problems the last two weeks against good defenses on the road in Kansas City and San Francisco (3 INT, 2 TD, 265 total pass yards).

Last week: Martavis Bryant (5 targets, 3 catches, 44 yards, 2 TD); Derek Car (194 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INT).

Sit 'em

Allen Hurns, Jacksonville wide receiver vs. Dallas
Fantasy owners can have short memories – and Hurns has been the "hot waiver pickup" before this season. Yes, he caught 7 passes for 112 yards and two scores last week at Cincinnati – but the last time Hurns did anything of note was way back in week 1 when he caught four passes for 110 yards and two scores. He’s a typical third wide receiver in that occasionally, he’ll have a huge game. Hurns is easily the third or fourth option in a marginal Jaguars offense, and he’s not worth gambling on as a start this week.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans running back vs. San Francisco
This may be surprising as the Saints are at home and the 49ers seem to be falling apart before our eyes. But, you have to look at the facts. The 49ers defense is still very, very good and they have not allowed a 100-yard rusher all year. They have also only allowed five rushing touchdowns on the year, two of which came from Denver’s Ronnie Hillman. Ingram has produced huge points the last two weeks, but he has faced two of the worst rush defenses in football in Green Bay and Carolina. It’s a trap game for Ingram fantasy owners – he’ll produce some points, but if you have a better matchup, roll with that one.

Last week: Juwan Thompson (6 rush yards, 1 catch, 6 yards); Jordan Reed (1 target, 1 catch, 17 yards).


Charles Sims, Tampa Bay running back vs. Atlanta
Literally no Buccaneer has been worth owning and/or starting in fantasy football this season aside from bye week hell and the occasional matchup – and that’s the category Sims falls into. He’s been on injured reserve to this point after turning some heads in training camp, and the matchup this week couldn’t be any better if you’re able to roll with a high risk-reward play. Sims is an NFL unknown the Bucs are terrible offensively – but the Falcons are the worst defense in fantasy football against running backs. They’ve allowed only one individual 100-yard rusher, but have given up 12 rushing touchdowns (13 total). And, the last time these two teams met Tampa Bay back Bobby Rainey had 105 yards of total offense with seven catches (and two fumbles). Sims could get you over the top this week if you’re in a boom-or-bust situation.

Last week: Darren McFadden (20 rush yards, 4 catches, 47 receiving yards).

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.